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Famous People from Belgium
(1982-01-06 - )
Justin Henin is the most important contemporary Belgian sports star and arguably the best female tennis player worldwide at the moment. Henin entered the big sport in 1997 by winning the junior title in singles at the French Open at the age of 15. Her first major success was in 2001 when she reached the women’s final at Wimbledon, losing to Venus Williams. The same year the young player won the Fed Cup with Belgium. Between 2003 and 2007 Justin Henin managed to win a total of seven Grand Slam tournaments – four times the French Open, two times the US Open and once the Australian Open. The peak of her career up to now has been the Olympic title in women’s singles from Athens 2004 when she beat Amelie Mauresmo in the final. The Belgian player first climbed the top of the WTA ranking in 2003 and since then has spent a total of 108 weeks as № 1 in the world, which makes her the sixth most successful female tennis player in the world, as far as the WTA ranking is concerned.
(1983-06-08 - )
Kim Clijsters is the other great star of Belgian tennis along with Justin Henin. She boasts a row of excellent achievements in her career, including the fact that she was simultaneously at the top of the WTA rankings in singles and doubles in August 2003. Clijsters made her debut in professional tennis in 1999, after she had already won the French Open and the US Open titles in doubles the previous year. Her greatest success was the victory at the US Open in singles in 2005, accompanied by the titles in doubles from the French Open and Wimbledon in 2003. During her relatively short professional career Kim Clijsters managed to win a total of 45 WTA tournaments. In May 2007 the Belgian star retired from active sport due to the large number of injuries.
(1959-06-24 - )
Michel Preud’homme is one of the most talented goalkeepers in the world and certainly the best Belgian one. He began his football career in Standard Liege in 1977 before joining KV Mechelen, where he spent his best years as a player. With this Belgian side he won Belgian league title, Belgian Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup in the period between 1987 and 1989. Preud’homme also played in Benfica between 1994 and 1999, when he stopped his active career. On the international level, he played 58 matches for the national team of Belgium, taking part in two World Cup events – in 1990 and 1994, and being the first winner of the Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper at the latter. Nowadays Preud’homme remains connected to football – he has been coach of his first club Standard since 2006.
(1972-11-25 - )
Stefan Everts ranks among the most prominent figures in the history of motor sports. The motocross racer, son of the four-time motocross World Champion Harry Everts, far surpassed his father’s achievements, winning the incredible 10 world titles between 1991 and 2006. Everts first entered the World Championship at the age of 17 and two years later won his first world title, becoming the youngest world champion at that time. The Belgian, who is famous for his extraordinary fine style of riding, competed for the teams of Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha and won titles with all of them. Everts was elected five times Belgian Sportsman of the Year between 2001 and 2006. The legendary racer still holds the records for most titles and most Grand Prix victories in motocross. In 2006 he ended his active career and became race director for the KTM factory team in the World Championship.
Peter Bruegel the Elder
(1525 - 1569-10-09 )
, Address in Brussels: Rue de la Porte Rouge 132
Bruegel is considered to be the most renowned Belgian artist and a foremost Northern painter of his time. For the reason that he mostly painted scenes of rural life, he is also known as “Peasant Bruegel.” He constituted independence of landscape and genre themes (scenes of daily life in the countryside) from established figural painting. Some of his paintings are 'Netherlandish Proverbs', 'Parable of the Blind' (or 'The Blind Leading the Blind'), 'Hunters in the Snow', T'he Suicide of Saul', 'The Conversion of St. Paul', 'The Triumph of Death,' 'The Fight Between Carnival and Lent' and 'The Blue Cloak'. The Flemish master had an influence on a number of later painters, among whom there were his own two sons, Jan and Pieter.
(1928-06-25 - 1922-12-24 )
Pierre Culliford, widely known under his artistic nickname Peyo, was born in Brussels. He was a cartoonist famed for creating the 'Smurfs' comic strip. The little blue dwarves first came on screen in 1958 as “side characters” in one of the episodes of Peyo's early cartoon J'ohan & Pirlouit'. Their first solo appearance was a year later. From then on, Smurfs' triumphal success was unstoppable. The American Hanna-Barbera Studios produced 250 animated cartoons that were telecast throughout the world and gained enormous popularity. Even though Peyo had a great success with 'Johan & Pirlouit' and even bigger with 'Smurfs', he introduced the 'Benoît Brisefer' series which has become another classic of his.
(1929-05-04 - 1993-01-20 )
, Address in Brussels: rue Keyenveld 38 Ixelles
If I were to write a biography, it would start like this: I was born in Brussels, Belgium, on May 4, 1929... and I died six weeks later.
The graceful actress and much loved humanitarian won a name for herself in 'Roman Holiday' (1953), her first Hollywood film. For her performance as Princess Ann she received the Best Actress Academy Award. Hepburn continued to adorn the screen with her inimitable charm in 'Sabrina' (1954), 'War and Peace' (1956), 'Funny Face' (1957), 'Love in the Afternoon' (1957), 'The Nun's Story' (1959), 'The Unforgiven' (1960), 'Charade' (1963), 'How To Steal A Million' (1966), 'Two for the Road' (1967), 'Wait Until Dark' (1967) and 'Robin and Marian' (1976). But it is her role as Holly Golightly in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961) that will be remembered as one of the most iconic in the cinematic history. In 1964 she starred in 'My Fair Lady'. Later in her life she was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and worked with famished children in Africa until her death of colon cancer.
(1929-04-08 - 1978-10-09 )
, Address in Brussels: 138 Avenue du Diamant, Schaerbeek
In my eyes Brussels has always been a tramway. I used to have to ride the tram for one hour and a half every morning and night. And it was always raining.
Brel is hailed as one of the most superb modern French-language singers and songwriters, and a passionate live performer. He got his first hit 'Quand on n'a que l'amour' in 1956 and throughout the rest of the 1950s and 1960s pursued successful recording and touring career. He left a wealth of powerful songs, which are in fact living stories of success, failure, dreams, disillusions. It is enough to mention 'Amsterdam', 'Ne Me Quitte Pa', 'Marieke', 'Les Bourgeois' and 'The Old Folks'. Some of his songs have been covered by musicians as disparate as Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Frank Sinatra and Sting. Brel also starred in several films, two of which he directed himself – 'Franz' in 1971 and 'Le Far West' in 1973. Though he passed away so young, his accomplishments will live on.